Marshall football: Taylor will miss more time
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall football Coach Doc Holliday said his team's off week came at a good time, giving injured players a chance to heal and return ready for the Thundering Herd's Oct. 5 game against the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Yet one integral player, senior defensive end Jeremiah Taylor, will not be among those coming back for the Homecoming game against the Roadrunners - and likely will be on the shelf a while longer.
Holliday wouldn't give a specific return date, but said Taylor's back injury - which forced him to sit out the second half of Marshall's loss to Ohio and the loss to Virginia Tech - was serious enough to warrant an extended stay on the injury list.
"JT's one guy that's probably going to be out a while," Holliday said. "He will not play against San Antonio. It's sad, but he won't."
Taylor, a team captain and Marshall's sack leader (5.5) as a junior, recorded six tackles, one for a loss, a sack and a pass breakup in 21/2 games this season. The snaps that went to Taylor will now go to Ra'Shawde Myers, who started in place of Taylor versus Virginia Tech, Gary Thompson and Arnold Blackmon. The three have combined for 27 tackles (31/2 for a loss) and three sacks.
"Those other guys, they all have got to play, and they've played pretty well, to be honest," Holliday said. "You don't want to lose anybody. You can't afford to lose anybody, but those kids have stepped up and made some nice plays."
Otherwise, the players banged up entering the off week - most notably running back Kevin Grooms, defensive linemen James Rouse and Brandon Sparrow, receivers Devon Smith and Craig Wilkins and tight end Gator Hoskins - should be available for Oct. 5. Holliday said Grooms may not practice during the off week, but he's been itching to return to the field.
"He's another guy that loves to play," Holliday said.
"He's on me, (Athletic Director) Mike Hamrick and everybody else because we won't let him play. But that's just Grooms. I'd rather have guys like that than guys hiding over in the corner happy they don't have to practice."
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THE HERD'S coaches will use this week to get a leg up on the recruiting trail. Holliday said the assistants will hit 10 to 12 different areas. They left on Sunday and returned either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning to get two full days to watch practices and recruit.
The team is looking for a couple more offensive tackles during this recruiting season, Holliday said, but the depth on the current team and the 11 high school players already verbally committed leave Marshall well stocked.
"With what we've got committed and what we've got on campus, there are not a lot of spots available," Holliday said. "We've got to be very selective in who we take from here on out. We sure don't need to get in any hurry, because there will be some really good players that fall in January and we have to make sure we're there with a couple of scholarships to take advantage of that."
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WITH THE non-conference schedule over, Marshall sits at 2-2 just like it did after four games last season. Holliday praised the team's attitude and work ethic, saying the Herd is a team that works hard toward getting better.
He praised quarterback Rakeem Cato's play, and had plenty of good things to say about the defense, a unit that was among the nation's worst last season but is tied with Utah State as the top group among Bowl Championship Series non-automatic qualifiers in yards allowed per game (285.0). With as much as Marshall's defense has improved, Holliday still sees places it can get even better, though it's not about getting the right players on the field.
"I'm not sure there's a lot of personnel issues there right now," Holliday said. "It's just a matter of getting kids playing better and getting them lined up properly."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.